One of the bigger pressures that seems to need to be exerted on Sookie by readers is the idea that Sookie should acknowledge that she’s a supe, and just be done with her ‘foolish morality’.
Firstly, let’s define “supe” by looking at the meaning of the word:
There are other meanings for the word, as you can see at the source, but the fact is that this idea is absolutely scuppered by Dead Reckoning. The only thing that’s supernatural about Sookie is her fairy blood. I doubt very much that CH will bring in some more heritage – it took roughly three books to get the Fae dealt with, so that’s it for heritage. The Fae are it, baby, because the telepathy is not a fairy trait, although it is a fae trait. It came from another race of the Fae, the demons.
Everything else about Sookie exists in human nature. Apart from her dab of fairy heritage, Sookie Stackhouse is all human.
Firstly to the moral dilemmas. Yes, I know, people get pissed off that Sookie bothers to question anything. She should go along with whatever Eric wants her to do. To a lesser extent, there are some people who get pissed off that she’s a Christian. You all should just be glad that she has a moral system you can understand, because if I wrote a moral dilemma for a character, you’d be scrambling to find out what Nicomachean ethics are. Perhaps it would make you feel better that the ethical system Sookie does follow is known in philosophy as “Divine Command” and is a sub-category of Deontological ethics.
If you don’t know this about me, let me tell you now, I’ve tutored in ethics. I know this stuff like the back of my hand, having shoved it down the throats of first years over and over, and challenged them for a few years now. One of the important things about the course – and one thing I love about Sookie Stackhouse – is that the point is not which system you follow, but that you think about what you’re doing. That’s what stops a lot of bad behaviour. In my field, we use it to stop police officers just going along with people who will lead them down the path of police corruption. That’s how the majority of police officers get corrupt – by doing shit without thinking because someone told them to do it.
From a literary standpoint, the books themselves would have giant holes if Sookie didn’t question why it is that Victor Madden is bad and has to die above and beyond Felipe. The reader would be left not giving a shit if Victor dies, because after all, they don’t hate him with a passion of a thousand suns because Sookie never reasoned out why Victor had to go. Why Victor was particularly worthy of death, so that there was rejoicing he was finally gone. Same with Andre – a lot of the moral reason is done internally – so clever that some readers don’t see it.
I’d also like to point out that this is a feature of fantasy books as well. Fantasy genre often poses the best moral questions – ones that we ordinary humans don’t run across every day. For example, I haven’t had to question in my life if I should cast a spell to take away someone’s free will. But I can explore it in a fantasy book or on a fantasy movie. It’s also a feature of sci-fi and horror. That’s why a lot of writers love writing this stuff, rather than romance. It doesn’t come down to “What is love?”; but bigger questions for the foundation of character building, like “Do vampires have souls and how can you tell if you have a soul?”
If it were to be reduced to the components of “Shit that happened”, the books would be more like a list of events that happened. Like so:
really nice dress and finally we got him in a position to die while
Bubba was singing. After I watched Indira de-cock Jock, I clove
a sword right through his back. Then Pam pushed him off and
decapitated him. Before we cleaned up the club, Eric bit me.”
See? Even though the moral dilemmas are seemingly hated, only a total tard would think that’s better than what CH wrote. But hey – they’re out there. They tell fanfic writers they’re better than CH all the time. 😉 I don’t think they read here though, so I’m safe from cocksucking remarks here….as long as I don’t call this entry “ESN inside”. There’s no feeling that cleaving a sword through someone’s back is gross, there’s no thought that she might kill Pam, there’s no thought that she doesn’t want to be around blood.
It couldn’t be easily replaced with happiness either. There just isn’t much to say about happiness. Imagine Jannalyn’s POV when she’s bringing her fists down on Sandra Pelt – but take out the idea that she’s putting Sandra out of her misery in a form of mercy. Mercy too is a moral judgement. So is forgiveness and a whole heap of other things that lead to more than just happy and love. Even ‘happy’ and ‘love’ rely somewhat on moral judgement.
That’s one thing missing from the fanfic that doesn’t capture my attention. So you’ve killed Felipe/Victor/Bill/Sam/Quinn – why is it that you’ve killed them? Why should I feel happy they’re dead, apart from the fact that you expect me to hate those characters for the same reason you do? Why should I feel that Sookie is right to let Eric slaughter a guy for sleeping with her? It works in fanfic only because the readers have read the exact same books as you, and all the reviewers agree with you viewpoint.
Similarly, there is the same problem with average to bad Eric POV. In average to bad Eric POV, when he’s canon vamp Eric, much of the dialogue has to revolve around how best he can get Sookie to hop into her new car. Cause average to bad fanfic Eric always pulls a car out of his arse. It’s a rule. His thoughts have to revolve around how to get Sookie to comply, because she just isn’t doing enough to please him and won’t sit in her new car, or won’t allow him to spit on the efforts of work that bought her her old car.
In turn, even when people don’t agree with Sookie, even in fanfic, they can understand her if she reasons things out. No one is in the dark from the books as to why Victor had to die, as opposed to Bill. Even if they disagree with Sookie, they still understand why she thinks that way. Then the ones who disagree usually make moral judgements on Sookie (She’s an idiot for trusting Bill!). So questioning and reasoning through things is one of the ways writers hook people into caring about characters at all. Most of the time if a story seems bland, and you’re not sure why, that’s why. No moral questioning going on.
Not to mention, that most of the time, when Sookie mentions her Christianity, she does it in a way that points out how much she’s veered from the faith that she’s grown up with. When she kills Debbie, she talks about how she’s gone against Christian values, and all throughout the books, she’s been moving further and further away from those values when it comes to her own life:
From Dead to Worse, p. 78You’re a Christian,” he said, as if he’d discovered
I was a hermaphrodite or a fruitarian.
“I’m a real bad one,” I said hurriedly.
Dead and Gone, pp. 155-156
These are only a couple of examples of Sookie saying Christianity doesn’t fit her needs, and questioning her own beliefs. So no matter if you hate or love Christianity, or the Deontological theory of Divine Command, that still provides a moral framework that a great majority of people understand culturally. They don’t have to be Christian, but most of us have met a few Christians, or been Christians, or had Christian education, or are Christians, lapsed or active. So the moral dilemmas aren’t going to go away, no matter how much readers think they’re boring. They’re part of her character, and they serve a literary purpose. If you don’t like the character of the person whose POV you’re reading, I’d recommend other books.
But of course, somehow it’s thought that if Sookie threw off the “shackles” of morality, then she could start realising how much of a supe she is. Except she’s not. And those same readers hate any show of Supernatural behaviour. It’s not particularly well received. Somehow, they think acknowledging you’re a Supe means, I dunno, liking killing things.
Except that it doesn’t. There’s nothing supernatural about liking killing things. Point in fact, Sam. He’s as supernatural as you can get, and yet:
disturbing thing about today’s encounter.
Unless I was mistaken, Sam did, too.
Dead Reckoning, p. 323
Supernatural creatures aren’t all as a group fine with killing people. I don’t think if confronted with a tough enough scenario, most readers would condone killing people either. I wonder how readers would come down on a moral dilemma I was thinking of, as a supernatural group comes down. I’d write a fanfic outlining it, but I am too lazy and not creative enough. So I’ll do it here:
Most people would express repugnance at the idea of killing this kid. But whether Eric kills her now, or waits until she’s legal age, her beliefs would be the same, and she’d still be on the side of being killed by Eric to “protect” Sookie and himself. I wonder how many readers would call Sookie “foolish” for wanting Eric to not be violent. After all, the age of the human doesn’t matter much to Eric. Does it make a difference if the Sword of Damocles is hanging over this girl’s head for the next five years until she’s legal and thus able to be killed? I doubt many would sympathise with Eric in that case, and watch him kill a fifteen year old girl, unless there’s something wrong with the reader themselves.
Since Sandra Pelt was that age when Sookie first encountered her, then should Sookie have let Eric slaughter the Pelts wholesale, rather than avoided killing? After all, it doesn’t make any difference. Hindsight shows us that Sandra Pelt is just as mean and spiteful as an adult. But at the time of killing, when Sandra was still potentially salvageable, few people wanted her to die. If they did, I would wonder how morally vacant they were to let a fifteen year old die because she’s angry over the murder of her sister.
Those supernatural qualities that Sookie does pick up wouldn’t be particularly attractive. Lots of readers protested that Sookie was able to get naked easily when she was running to Bill’s house. Yet we see weres, vampires and fairies stripping off without any problem. That’s a characteristic of the supernatural creatures. After all, don’t they want her to realise how supernatural she is? Oh, except when they don’t like the supernatural characteristic apparently. But if you “realise” you’re a supe, then that means the whole kit and kaboodle, not just the stuff readers want to cherry pick.
What about the fact that all of the supernatural groups distrust the others, and cleave to each other as a fraternity of supernatural characteristics? Weres defer to the pack, vampires have Vampires First policy. So why isn’t it good that Sookie protects Hunter from Eric? Why should Sookie have to tell Eric about Hunter? Telepaths first, right? As the most senior telepath, guess who’s the boss of the telepath supernatural group? That would be Sookie. How about if Sookie got Barry out of the Rhodes bombing, and then told the vampires? Yet the community sentiment is the other way – that Sookie should cleave to the vampires and betray Hunter to one. Like Eric sided with Sookie over Appius…wait….
The truth is that if Sookie accepted she was a supe, then she wouldn’t be listening to what Eric says. Alcide doesn’t right? He makes the rules for himself and his pack. He doesn’t answer to Eric, and they might form alliances, but Eric isn’t even allowed at pack meetings. Accepting you’re a supernatural creature doesn’t mean you’re subject to Eric’s wishes on a matter – it means you guard against being Eric’s creature and under his thumb.
Sookie is almost human, as she said herself way back when:
In the next instant, I thought, We are, too. We had more in common
with humans that with the other part of us. We lived like humans;
we would die like humans.
From Dead to Worse, p. 231
There is far more that keeps her human, and I think that when you look at what makes a supernatural creature loyal to a supernatural society, that’s not separate from Sookie letting the Weres run on her land, or reading Eric’s day guy Mustapha Khan, or giving the Fairies a home. Except Sookie’s more likely to do it for all groups rather than serving the Telepaths United group’s interests first. That’s what makes the books. Without her Christian values, and her human philosophy and feelings to accepting these people with love, kindness and charity in her heart, the books wouldn’t exist at all.